Edmonton Oilers

Craig MacTavish has the title of vice-president of hockey operations in his third go-round with the Edmonton Oilers. I don’t think it’ll be more than a season or two until he’s general manager, and I’m betting he’ll be good at it.

I can’t put my finger on an exact over/under as to when the former Oiler captain and coach, hired this summer to work alongside president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, will take over from current boss Steve Tambellini, but I see it happening. I don’t have any inside information on this, it’s just a gut-feeling. I’m guessing I’m not alone.

I know Tambellini just got a contract extension – we haven’t been told what the term is – but I can see one more season out of the playoffs, which is more of a probability than a possibility, being enough to trigger a shuffle at the top with Tambellini moving out and MacT moving in.

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For me, this isn’t so much a dump-on-Tambellini bit, which is like shooting fish in a barrel around here, as it is recognition of ties that bind, and those ties between the Oilers and MacTavish, starting with owner Daryl Katz and Lowe at the very top of the food chain, are undeniable.


As far back as their playing days with the Oilers and the New York Rangers, Lowe and MacTavish shared what-ifs about what it might be like to coach and manage a team together. They’ve already done that, of course, but my sense is there’s an encore coming.

Even if the Oilers show substantial improvement this year and push for a playoff spot, which seems more than reasonable, under Tambellini, I think it’ll play out that MacTavish will be calling the shots, in tandem with Lowe, by the time the Oilers are actually back in the playoffs. What, 2013-14?

Tambellini is an outsider and the history of this organization – the Once an Oiler, always an Oiler mantra – suggests that’ll always be the case. Outsiders, be it Pat Quinn, Tom Renney, Scott Howson, Rob Daum or Ralph Krueger, come and go. Insiders, like Lowe, MacTavish, Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith, come and go, then come back again. That’s how it goes.

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MacT as GM? It’s a matter of time.


Aside from the NHL and NHLPA settling into to hammer out a new CBA, which is obviously no small matter, there is precious little else going on around the hockey world. One need only look at the headlines on national websites like TSN and Sportsnet to see that.

. . . “Owen Nolan to host fishing, hunting show” I’d rather watch Steve MacIntyre host a show about hunting bears with nothing but his bare hands.

. . . “Canucks’ Malhotra to participate in Vancouver pride parade” Political statement or does Malhotra have something to tell us?

. . . “Jets promote Simmons to assistant GM” Now, if we’re talking Gene Simmons or Richard Simmons, you’ve got a news item. Sadly, no. The Jets have promoted Larry Simmons. You know, Larry Simmons, right?

. . . “Report: Tiger’s ex-wife dating San Jose Shark” Apparently, Elin Nordegren is boffing Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray. Glad to see Elin tearing it up a bit after bashing in Tiger’s teeth with a three-iron (she must have liked the look).

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I think it’s time NHL teams accept that non-MSM bloggers are here to stay and start issuing them press credentials and granting access to players.

“Hey, Darcy, I’m doing a story on goons and knuckle-draggers and I’d like to talk to you . . .” Or “Taylor, I think the Oilers made a big mistake burning the first year of your ELC in 2010-11 and I’d like your thoughts on the big picture I’m painting here . . .” Or “Nuge, screw the boxcars and PPG, your QUALCOMP/real Corsi/something something numbers prove beyond a doubt Gabriel Landeskog deserved the Calder Trophy. Whaddaya say?”

Move aside, spineless MSM fartcatchers. Now the tough questions can be asked and the truth finally be told. I’d pay to see it.


. . . The Bronte 5000 pegs Jordan Eberle at 29-38-67 for 2012-13. And yes, the software has been updated since I had everybody on the Edmonton roster except Laddy Smid scoring 40 points in the Lucky 13 Pool two seasons ago.

. . . Buchberger has been an assistant coach through the tenures of MacTavish, Quinn and Renney. Now, he’ll ride shotgun for Krueger. To borrow from an infamous text message, “Bucky isn’t going anywhere.”

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

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  • ubermiguel

    No, this has to do with clear, concise journalism that upholds a professional standard. That is what separates professional writers from all else. RB failed at this in this article. Once a professional, always expected to retain that level of professionalism… regardless what you do. If you want to slough off that standard it is incumbant upon you to ensure you are either not commenting/involved in your professional area or are doing so behind very closed doors with those you trust.

      • Eddie Edmonton

        MacT won’t replace ST.

        You’re forgetting about Coffey, Gretzky and Messier. Those boys will come back one day as well and will need positions in the Oilganization.

        I can see Coffey as an assistant coach. One of Gretzky and Messier will be the coach and the other a GM.

        Would Gretzky make a good GM?
        Would Messier make a good GM or a better coach?

  • I find it refreshing that Malholtra took a stand whether it be political or lending moral support for Brian Burke – or simply, for a cause. Players typically tow the party line – choosing instead to zip their lips and remain silent on any issue. I like someone – anyone – who stands up for what they believe in and shows their face in the process. Who cares what Malholtra’s reasons were for walking in the parade. Far too easy for a few of you out there to cast judgement on someone while in the comfy and faceless confines of your virtual home.

  • DieHard

    I can just see Katz’s saying to Lowe, ” does Tamby ever answer a question”?

    I’m with your gut feeling RB………Tamby is as good as gone. Can’t wait for that day.

  • The Soup Fascist

    RB, A couple of concerns with your article. The “Time to Mow the Lawn” headline is an obvious reference to my manscaping issues and I take great offence to your mentioning it in an article. Secondly, your portrayal of young Elin wielding a 3-iron is an affront to models, Scandanavians and in fact ALL WOMEN. Plus, it is an obvious slight to your Doppleganger, Jack Nicholson who required a nine-iron to smash a windshield while Elin managed to cause an SUV to topple with an iron that is much harder to master.

    So Brownlee, on behalf of all supermodels, Scandanavians, women, golfers, Dopplegangers, crazy actors, SUV drivers and Manscapers – straighten up and fly right!

    To quote Nigel Powers: “There’s only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures and the Dutch.”

    Lighten up people!

  • Guggenheim

    Buchberger has been an assistant coach through the tenures of MacTavish, Quinn and Renney. Now, he’ll ride shotgun for Krueger. To borrow from an infamous text message, “Bucky isn’t going anywhere.”

    Bucky is our version of that weird brother that Ron Howard has in all his movies…

  • Reality Check to the head

    Stack pad save wrote:

    “I could be mistaken but I believe the same thing happened with the GM’s for Pittsburgh and Chicago with the GM who got all the draft picks and selected well was not the GM in the season they won their cups. It makes sense, incompetent GM creates a bad team, lucks out at the draft, or by shear impossibility of failing by having so many opportunities to draft high restocks the shelves. Owner then goes and fires incompetent GM and replaces him with a person that knows what they are doing and that GM makes good decisions to help win a cup.”

    Then we should really be getting rid of Lowe then. I am not saying Tambo did not do a multitude of things wrong, but the ship started sinking badly before Tambo took over.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    A few here appear to be a little tightly wound up for a Friday before a long weekend. Most of us here enjoy a little more relaxed atmosphere here on ON. A place were you can click on and undo the top button on your shirt and let your tie out a bit and enjoy a beverage.

    Screw the MSM guidelines. If i wanted another imperfect product i’d buy the Sun or the Journal and get the news a day late all the time.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I don’t know what you do to relax but I am here for hockey stuff, not jokes I literally used to make in junior high. If you’re going to make bigoted statements be like CK Lewis and Chris Rock. Ironic.

      This is why bloggers don’t get access, no accountability for saying silly things.

      i just hope this doesn’t become a thing with Robin, I really enjoy his articles. It’s like when Grandpa says something racist. WHY GRANDPA WHY! He’s such a JEW!

      • Quicksilver ballet

        It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’re from, if there’s blood in your veins, there’s surely an element of hate in you. Everyone of us has an element of discomfort, areas we’d rather not go.

        Some go to the ends of the earth keeping up appearances but at the end of the day there’s something tucked away in the depths of all our hearts best not shared.

        I know of only one man who walked the walk and talked the talk, and he died over 2012 years ago.

  • 2004Z06

    Ok Vetinari’s comment was priceless. I suppose I shouldn’t say that here. I might be offending interpretive dance afficionados.

    Lighten up! Now I have a lawn to mow…..

  • The Soup Fascist

    Thanks to The Fish and Pouzar 99 for pointing out to us lowly ON readers what is appropriate or what is funny.

    Huge Will Ferrel fan. Very likely “pedestrian” to the highbrow crowd and certainly inappropriate (the “pole position”comment in Talladegha Nights is quite a shocker). I shall burn the DVDs (not many books to burn at my place) immediately.

    This is a freakin hockey website that occasionally delves into beer, chicks and politically incorrect commments. Please get over yourselves.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I march in the gay pride parade in support of my good friends who are gay. As far as my wife or I know, I’m not gay.

    Let’s not get too concerned about any of this.

    Instead, let’s make fun of how the Sun is a laughably bad newspaper.

  • bazmagoo

    The pride parade is a massive day in Vancouver, with the entire community enjoying the fact that the city is civilized and tolerant of types of people.

    Sadly, not something an Alberta redneck would understand.

    Malholtra taking part just means he wants to be part of the overall community and make an appearance, as many straight people do every year.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Not directed specifically at you, but “tolerant” is a word I cannot stand. No matter one’s race, gender or orientation what have they done that requires them to be “tolerated”?

      I “tolerate” my kids fighting, my mother-in-law’s visits and Canuck fans. If someone has to be “tolerant” of Blacks, Gays or any other person who has never committed an act against them – that says something about that individual, not the people being “tolerated”.

      Not a rant against you bazmagoo. Just that “tolerant” is a word I can’t … Well … Tolerate.

      Edit: BTW. Not sure if you are grouping all Albertans or people who disagree with you as Rednecks. That would be a bigoted and extremely ironic statement.

      • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

        You just blew my mind dude! I had this same convo with some peeps a while ago. Props!

        Just to try and lighten up the mood around here, I have a great knock knock joke for you. You have to start it though.

        • The Soup Fascist

          Why do I feel a set up coming? I am not crazy about playing Dean to your Jerry but ‘knock’ yourself out.

          Consider this your ‘Knock Knock’ and yada yada who?

          God Help me! (Or Allah, Yahweh, Buddah, Fred (for the atheists). I don’t want to pi$$ off anyone today.

  • Mitch

    Robin I think the same as you, MacT will one day wear the G.M. title. Would it be safe to say that MacT has more pull than Tambi right now?

    As a G.M. in todays game I give thumbs up to Paul Holmgrem he is very active not scared of change looks like Philly will always be competitive.

    I don’t know that Edm can make the playoffs, I think they will put up better totals this coming yr but it may mean no playoffs.

    I also feel Tambi would be a good set up man a background guy. MacT is a Oiler there is no doubt, the job should be his.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Brownlee doesn’t need or I presume want me to defend him. And I have plenty of friends.

    Relax pal. Maybe we should stick to hockey and not social commentary and avoid the drama. We are out of high school – right?